Windows Live Messenger Steve Ballmer previewed in Brazil today represents again how a loosely joined ecosystem is developing in the cloud computing world. They are growing through a network of service providers connected through open API's.The new
Windows Live Messenger represents a re-emergence of a veteran Web product, revitalized by a loosely coupled network that is fostering a new ecosystem of open, connected communities. What it provides is Microsoft new opportunity to develop its own social graph by connecting with social networks and third-party services.
It's demonstrative of a new wave of platforms that seem to emerge with each passing week. Google Apps Marketplace, VMforce, SnapLogic - the list goes on.
But it's also an example of a much deeper movement that you see as a common thread in both new and old service providers.
These are newer companies like ZenDesk that are finding a place in the SaaS ecosystem. And there are older ones such as Hoovers that are playing on the emergence of open systems and the social Web to re-architect and create their own social CRM communities.
What all these companies have in common is a renewed priority on engagement across multiple networks through platforms, SaaS providers and data services.
In Sau Paulo, Ballmer previewed an upgrade to its instant messaging service. Its one of the most significant upgrades the service has seen in a while. Ballmer focused on the social aspects of the service which allows users to create a centralized hub for their various social networks. For example, the service will support Facebook Chat, allowing people to connect to Facebook from within the Microsoft Connect environment.
In Amsterdam, Microsoft developers unveiled Messenger Connect, the new API service that connects to Windows Live Messenger.
From the Inside Windows Live blog:
"Messenger Connect brings the individual APIs we've had for a long time (Windows Live ID, Contacts API, Messenger Web Toolkit, etc.) together in a single API that's based on industry standards and specifications (OAuth WRAP, ActivityStrea.ms, PortableContacts) and adds a number of new scenarios."
The new Messenger Connect provides developer partners with three big things:
- Create a user profile and social graph: Allows users to sign in and access friends lists.
- A web-oriented architecture that exposes a RESTful interface. This provides developers with easier technical integration with the service.
- Social distribution of the chat service: Real-time chat and the integration of Message Connect services into third-party sites.
We'll write more about ZenDesk and Hoover's in a later post. They are part of continuing thread we will see in the market as open API's proliferate.
But for now, the moves by companies like Microsoft show that a loosely coupled ecosystem is growing fast and will be one of the most significant trends in 2010.